Monday, 16 July, 2018

'Catastrophic' risk of death for 300,000 Yemeni children trapped by attack

Battle for Yemen's biggest port under way Saudi-Led Alliance Gears up for Assault on Key Yemeni Port City
Leonard Rios | 15 June, 2018, 14:22

Saudi-backed forces have started an assault on Yemen's main port city of Hudaydah.

The Red Sea port, controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebels who hail from northern Yemen, serves as the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports as it teeters on the brink of starvation.

"The port is a lifeline to much-needed supplies of food and other life-saving resources and any attack would jeopardise the ability of this country to feed itself".

Satterfield declined to comment after the hearing when Al-Monitor asked him if the United States is still providing refueling support for Saudi and Emirati planes operating in Hodeidah.

November 2017: The coalition imposes a complete blockade on Yemen in response to a missile fired by the Houthis at the Riyadh airport.

Charities have warned the targeting of Hodeida will begin an intractable and bloody new chapter in the conflict, trapping civilians and prompting the closure of the port to make starvation a "very real possibility". "This comes from this seaport".

He said "aid operations will be severely challenged in the event of sustained fighting in densely populated urban areas" and stressed that people trying to flee conflict areas "must be allowed to do so without any hindrance". Meanwhile, the UN and Western nations say Iran has supplied the Houthis with weapons from assault rifles up to ballistic missiles.

The UAE has said coalition forces plan to keep the port operational but warned that the Houthis could sabotage infrastructure and place land and sea mines as they withdraw. The bombardment from the air and the sea is bound to force thousands out of their homes, creating a massive internal refugee disaster-on top of the existing humanitarian crisis that plagues Yemen.

Hassan Taher, the official Hodeida governor based outside the city, said on Wednesday that Yemen's government would ensure aid deliveries throughout the offensive.

The coastal city of Hudaydah is where most of the aid arrives for people in Yemen's rebel-held areas.

Aid groups warn that the attack on Hodeida, the country's main entry point for food and humanitarian aid, could make a catastrophic situation even worse.

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A military source said a large-scale ground operation supported by the Arab coalition's aerial and naval cover began to march towards Hodeidah in more than one axis.

A Saudi-led coalition has begun an assault on the Yemen port city of Hodeida with aid agencies warning 300,000 children are at risk of being killed or maimed. He said the rebels had countered "hostile naval warships" off the coasty of al-Olifika, to the south.

The Yemeni army and resistance forces, aided by the Arab coalition, officially launched the battle to liberate the city and port of Hodeidah, west of Yemen, on Wednesday at dawn after the Houthis rejected peaceful solutions.

Yemen's United Nations humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande said a "worst case" in an assault on Hodedia would mean 250,000 people "losing everything - even their lives".

"There is no substitute for Hodeida".

Security sources there said the rebel snipers have been stationing on top of tall buildings as residents stayed indoors.

The Arab Coalition's on-going bloody attack on Yemen's critical port city of Hodeidah, with Washington's acquiescence, will only deepen the humanitarian tragedy of the Yemeni people.

The initial battle plan appeared to involve a pincer movement.

Emirati forces with Yemeni government troops moved in from the south near Hodeida's airport, while others sought to cut off Houthi supply lines to the east, the officials said.

"The hampering of the function of the seaport will for sure have an impact on the population's living conditions and the capacity for them to cope with the current crisis", he added.

Exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and many of his advisers now live in Saudi Arabia after Shiite rebels known as Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in September 2014. Days earlier, Saleh had reached out to the Saudi-led coalition, indicating he might switch sides.

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